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The Rehabilitation Of Non-Jewish Leaders In Josephus’ Antiquities

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Chapter Summary

An important part of Josephus' response to the charges of critics of the Jews can be seen in his treatment of non-Jewish figures. Here Josephus was clearly confronted with a dilemma: if he downgraded these figures he would play into the hands of those who charged that he, no less than Jews generally, was prejudiced against non-Jews; but if he showed too much regard for them he would be whitewashing idol-worshippers and, in some cases, enemies of the Jewish people, and so would clearly offend Jews in his audience. Josephus, in his portrait of the non-Jew Jethro, is particularly concerned to answer the charge that Jews hate non-Jews. Josephus gives a relatively unbiased portrayal of Balaam, especially when it is compared with what find in Philo,in the rabbinic tradition, in the New Testament, or in the Jewish Scriptures themselves.

Keywords: Balaam; Jethro; Josephus; New Testament; non-Jewish leaders; Philo; rabbinic tradition



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